Seven Interesting Unknown Facts about Bacteria

Sunday, December 24, 2017 - 13:39

From Neisseria gonorhoeae to living in space, bacteria are single-cell organisms that are neither plants nor animals and are often maligned as the causes of human and animal disease.

Here are some interesting facts about bacteria, BBC reports:

1. Their name reflects what they look like: Bacteria are given two names—their genus and species—which are often descriptive of where the bacteria are found or what they look like.

2. They can exist in extreme environments: Bacteria can be found living in the deepest oceans, the hottest deserts and have even survived a trip to outer space.

3. They have social awareness: If a bacterium finds itself in a minority, it will lay low until it is surrounded by more of its own species. They can also build themselves into huge communities called ‘biofilms’—colonies of millions of individuals that protect and cling to one another.

4. They have an impressive array of survival strategies: One species, Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus is a cannibal—it eats other bacteria. Bacteria also build bridges to share bits of DNA with each other, or they can hijack tiny viruses to do this instead.

5. They have superpowers: Bacteria with flagella, or spinning tails, can move up to a hundred times their body length in a second—a large fish can only move about ten times its body length in a second.

6. They are everywhere: Bacteria live all over our skin and can be spread easily by touch. This isn’t usually a problem, but in somewhere like a hospital where people are vulnerable to infections, this spread should be kept to a minimum. One simple and effective way to stop bacteria spreading is a good hand washing. You don’t even need antibacterial soap, as the rubbing motion with normal soap and water washes bacteria down the drain.

7. They thrive in space: Scientists found that bacteria that spent time on the International Space Station were much harder to kill with standard antibiotics than the stuff here on Earth (because of the effect of microgravity on the functioning of the bacteria).

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